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Hosting Plans Compared: Pros & Cons

You have decided to start a website, but when it comes time to choose what hosting plan you need, you find yourself stuck. Do you need a dedicated server? How much bandwidth do you need? What are you going to put on your website? What is a VPS? Why are some plans more expensive than others?

These questions can get overwhelming pretty quickly. But don't worry. We can help you decide just what you need to make your decision a bit easier. Here's a brief introduction to web hosting, and a detailed guide to the plans web hosting companies like ours offer. After reading this guide, you'll be able to confidently choose the hosting plan that is best for your company.

What do web hosting companies do?

We're a web hosting company, which means that we provide the computers, or servers, that store your files. We keep the servers happy by supplying them with ample power and bandwidth, and keep our customers happy by providing you with exceptional service and technical support.

If you have a big website, you need your own computer, your own hard drive, and your own power and Internet connection. And, if you're a giant web site, you need a slew of them, dozens, even thousands of servers, all chock full with your own content.

Most web hosting companies offer three major types of hosting: shared, virtual private servers, and dedicated servers. We'll start by outlining the differences between these hosting plans, and then move into explaining two specialty products we offer—business hosting, and reseller hosting.

SHARED HOSTING

shared hosting

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If you're starting your first website, you probably don't need that many resources. You don't have enough material to fill a single server. You're not getting a lot of web traffic. Quite frankly, your website isn't that demanding. If you had your own server, you'd pay for electricity, computing power and Internet access you don't need.

So, you share. Hundreds of other small websites like yours have similar needs, and you all benefit from sharing a server with each other. You share hard drive space and bandwidth, so no one can hog all the resources. And, with the economies of scale, you pay just a fraction of what it would cost to set up your own server.

Benefits of Shared Hosting

With shared hosting, you get many of the benefits of having your own server, without the expense. Hosting companies will back up your data daily, offer you unlimited email accounts and give you the tools and software support you need to customize your site.

Even better, you can upgrade your site over time. So, if you start out with a very basic website and then decide you want to start a podcast, or add video, you can change your plan. Or, if you find that your site is very popular, you can increase your bandwidth—literally, how many times people can load your website—so you won't have to worry about your site crashing at the worst possible time. Many hosting companies offer a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, so you won't need to worry about your servers crashing unexpectedly.

Drawbacks of Shared Hosting

While you can upgrade your shared hosting plan, there comes a point where you need so much storage space and bandwidth that a shared plan will no longer meet your needs. Shared plans aren't made to last forever.

Shared plans also require that you use ordinary, commonly available software for your website, so if you need a particular application you may need to operate your own server.

Finally, even though we do our best to keep our shared accounts up and running, if there happens to be issue with another account on the server you share, you might suffer the consequences.

CLOUD VPS (VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER)

cloud vps hosting

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A server is, basically, a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and a dependable power supply. With a shared hosting plan, you purchase both hard drive space and bandwidth on the server, so your site is one of hundreds that are operating on the same machine, and on the same operating system. If the server crashes, or someone else's site hogs all the memory, your site can be affected.

A virtual private server is like shared hosting in one way—your site is one of several located on the same computer. But, everything else is different. The operating system you're running is your own, as the computer uses a “virtual” operating system (similar to those programs that allow you to run Windows on a Mac) to allocate not just hard drive space and bandwidth, but also memory.

Here at A Small Orange, our virtual private servers are Cloud VPSs, which means that there are a number of servers that are joined together, allowing them to create a “cloud” of computers that can deploy resources where needed.

Advantages of a Cloud VPS

When you make the leap from shared hosting to a VPS, most of the benefits come from the middle term—“Private.” Unlike shared hosting, a VPS gives you access to your own server, which means you can install and customize your own server applications (the software that runs your website), decide when and how to reset your server to install new applications or ward off attacks, and ensure that your private content will stay private.

In addition, with a VPS, you can dedicate more resources—memory (RAM), hard drive space, bandwidth, processing power—to your site, so you won't need to worry about your site being overcome with demand. And, of course, you can upgrade your plan at any time, so if you find yourself with a deluge of new fans, a simple upgrade will ensure that you have the memory and processing power necessary to keep your visitors happy.

Drawbacks of a Cloud VPS

A Cloud VPS has many advantages over a shared plan, including increased reliability, the most important one is that a Cloud VPS can allocate processing power in addition to memory, hard drive space, and bandwidth. But, when compared with a dedicated server, there are clear disadvantages of a Cloud VPS.

First, while a Cloud VPS plan gives you more options for customization than a shared plan, you can't customize everything you want, as you're still sharing some resources with other plans. Second, a Cloud VPS still won't give you as much memory, bandwidth, and storage as a dedicated server. Finally, Cloud VPS plans are a bit more difficult to use than shared plans, so if you're stepping up from a shared plan it might be a difficult move.

HYBRID/DEDICATED SERVERS

dedicated servers

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As we've established, a server is a computer, fed by power and connected to the Internet, that hosts your website. When you're running a small website, you don't need that much storage space, memory, or bandwidth, so you can get by with a shared hosting plan, where your account is one of a hundreds on a single server. If you need a little more space, you can use a virtual private server, powered by cloud computing to make it cheaper and more efficient. But, if your demands can't be met by traditional shared plans, you need to consider a hybrid or dedicated server.

A dedicated server is a server that you can call your own, because it is. The processing power, the memory, the hard drive space, the operating system are all yours to modify and exploit for your own purposes. You have more bandwidth to take advantage of, so you can handle many more visitors than you could before.

In short, dedicated servers offer the best web hosting out there, and are essential for sites that count their visitors in the thousands, or even millions.

If you're not ready to take the plunge and get a dedicated server, a hybrid server gives you many of the advantages of a dedicated server at a lower cost. Hybrid servers are, in effect, a supercharged Cloud VPS (Virtual Private Server). That is, your server is “virtual,” and shares the resources of several servers in order to meet your demand.

While Cloud VPS plans limit your bandwidth, hybrid servers give you substantially more bandwidth at the same price point, making it perfect for the small, but frequently visited site. Hybrid servers are also easier to manage than dedicated servers, so you won't have to make quite so many decisions out of the box.

Advantages of a Hybrid/Dedicated Server

With a dedicated server, you have total control over your server. You can install custom applications and operating software. You can choose how much memory to install, what kind of hard drive you want, and how powerful you need your processor to be. We provide the box, the power, and a fast Internet connection, but you take care of everything else.

Hybrid servers have the same benefits of a Cloud VPS plan, but with increased bandwidth. Whether you choose a hybrid or dedicated server, moving to the next level of web hosting is an absolute must if you find yourself in need of server capacity that meets your site's newfound success.

Drawbacks of a Hybrid/Dedicated Server

Although hybrid and dedicated servers are our top of the line offerings, they do have some drawbacks. Because you are responsible for setting up your own system, you'll have to do your own technical support, which is an added expense to consider. If you're not ready to make this step, you should stick with the plan you have until you find someone who can help you.

BUSINESS HOSTING

business hosting

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If you're running a small business, you have particular needs for web hosting. You need to be able to handle a high volume of visitors. You need to be able to offer a robust, flexible, and secure online store. You need your site to be so reliable that you can direct customers to it day and night and be certain that it will be up.

For small businesses, A Small Orange offers customized hosting services that are designed with business needs in mind. Here are a few features of our business plans that stand out:

A Free SSL Certificate—SSL, an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, is essential to web security. In order to use SSL, which is a requirement for anyone who wishes to transmit secure information, like credit card numbers. You can request a SSL Certificate through cPanel, so it's simple to get your web security up and running.

A Dedicated IP Address—A dedicated IP address is a prerequisite for a SSL Certificate. It also gives you greater control over your website, including the ability to access it directly via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

PCI Compliant Servers—The Payment Card Industry (PCI) is an organization that was created by the major credit card companies to establish standards for secure financial transactions online. The PCI DSS (Data Security Standard) is a set of requirements one has to adhere to in order to be trusted with credit card data. Our business hosting servers are regularly scanned for PCI compliance, which will give you peace of mind as you take credit card orders online.

Cloud-based Infrastructure—By hosting your site in the “cloud,” or a group of interconnected servers, you will reduce the risk of site downtime.

Our business plans are made for businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to small businesses to enterprise-level plans. With our help, you can both start a successful online business and upgrade your site as your business expands. With built-in support for e-commerce, our business plans are designed with your needs in mind.

RESELLER HOSTING

reseller hosting

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Reseller hosting is based on a pretty simple business proposition. If you buy something in bulk, you can sell off pieces of your purchase for a profit. Whether it's cases of beer or boxes of chips, buying in bulk can save you and your customers' money.

When you buy and resell web hosting, you're betting that you can make a profit by selling domain names, server space, and bandwidth to your own clients. You buy one of three simple hosting plans from us, and you decide how to resell your hosted websites. You decide what to charge and how to divvy up your resources to maximize your profits.

With reseller hosting, customer satisfaction is your responsibility. Because you are, effectively, the web host, you can provide whatever level of service you think your customers need and want, from phone and email support to personal visits. Adding hosting services to your own site is one of the easiest things you can do to increase your monthly income.

COMPARE HOSTING PLANS BEFORE YOU BUY

When you sign up for web hosting services, you have many choices to make. The most important choice, though, is which hosting plan to start with. If you've never made a website before, you should start with a shared plan and upgrade when you need it. But, if this isn't your first website, consider the options available to you, from basic shared hosting plans to dedicated servers. With a full-service web hosting company, you'll have options for plans of any size and shape.

Next: The Building Blocks of a Website – A Guide for Kids & Teens